She was not of this place. She was of the OTHER place, formless, void. The name her parents had given her (in the seconds, in the millennia) before time, and this place, came into being could not be pronounced by any sentient creature. Not by the stars or planets. Not by the humans on their spinning rock, the living crystals that sang to the expanding universe, or the lonely dragons who floated through space, quiet and frozen.

She called herself Bly, in this place. More often than not she took the sinuous form of the nomadic space dragons and spent her days in orbit around an old black hole. In its days as a star, it had gone by the name Ro, an ode to the life that sprouted up on its fourth planet. But that life had been fleeting. They did not grow fast enough, could not escape the inevitable expansion that Ro underwent as the centuries crawled by. Their atmosphere, their oceans were boiled away long before Ro’s outer edges consumed their planet. Their song was reunited with Ro’s, immortal now.

Bly was there when Ro was reborn as a black hole. She saw Ro go supernova, felt gravity drag the core of Ro down to an infinite point, heard the star song of Ro morph screaming into the low knell of the void. For a black hole was of the void, gave birth to it, substance. From such had Bly once emerged, in the infancy of this place.

She orbited Ro now, just outside the event horizon, and admired the beauty that was her long time companion. Ro was shrouded in a vast twisted robe of spacetime, light absorbed or light lensed outlining the vast inky emptiness that was the body of her once bright companion. All around, imbued into the very fabric of this place, was the sound of Ro’s singing. A long low note, the lowest note in this place, not OF this place, sounded from the heart of Ro. Mournful and yet exhultant. Ro would sing that note long after all the stars were dead, Bly knew this.

“Ro, my love, what will you tell me today,” Bly called, her scales and furred underbelly glinting with frost in the halo of Ro’s firey meal. A sigh like thunder rumbled out of Ro, causing his outer edges to tremble.

“I dreamed deeply, Bly. I was human, and I was alone. I longed deeply for the stars. In that I was not alone. I called to the void, and it answered me. I woke,” Ro said, words full of hunger and longing. That was the nature of black holes, Bly knew. To hunger, to long, to consume, and yet to be satisfied. To be patient and wise. These were the qualities of black holes. They were not so different from humans in thay regard, Bly had learned.

“This place confuses me, Ro. I long for the void,” Bly confessed, drifting closer. She was heedless of the grip of gravity. Ro was not.

“Join me, Bly, and I will whisper the secrets of this place to you,” Ro said, form trembling with anticipation. Bly did not notice and drifted ever closer.

“I came into this place to learn but have failed my mission. What do you know of this place that I do not,” she said. Ro was quiet.

“Death. I know it, and now so shall you,” Ro said as Bly slipped past the point of no return.

Ro consumed Bly quietly, added her song to the eternal song of black holes. Some time later, a creature emerged from the heart of Ro. It was without form, as insubstantial as a cloud of dust. It turned it’s attention to its parent, expectant.

“Go out and see what you can see, my child. Do not return here.” The dust cloud sighed.

“What shall I call myself,” it asked it’s parent. Ro looked within, saw all of time stretched out in its heart, and said, “Echo. That is what you will call yourself in this place.” Ro released Echo and watched it drift off into the fabric of space.

Ro was alone.

Ro dreamed. Ro was human again.

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